Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 8


2 Corinthians 8

 

-Chapter 8 extols the virtues of love and generosity using the examples of the Macedonians, Titus, and another unnamed famous preaching brother. They had given out of their deep desire for their fellow brothers in a time of need in accordance to their blessings in fairness, not as a burden (2 Corinthians 8:13). *Application* Paul’s point in this section is that we all should know and apply the grace of Christ Jesus. He was rich with everything in His Heavenly realm, yet for our sakes He became poor by coming to this depraved earth and actually dying for sinful man. This makes us rich with fulfillment and eternal life (2 Corinthians 8:9). There must be a giving spirit among us as believers. We are to be relief givers in a variety of ways as we perceive the needs of others. Be earnest (enthusiastic, eager, diligent, with zeal) and genuine (real, authentic) in your giving just as Christ was for us (2 Corinthians 8:8). As you begin a gracious work, make sure to complete it in your life according to your God given ability, not as a burden (2 Corinthians 8:12). Do what is honorable. God has made you ready, willing, and able!

 

Verse to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 8:9

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 7


2 Corinthians 7

 

-Paul begins chapter seven with a causal statement. Because we have these (Christ’s Righteousness, the Holy Spirit, Reconciliation, Union, the New Covenant, etc.) promises, we should cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body (physical) and spirit (mind, heart, will). This is to bring holiness to completion (it is a process) in the FEAR  (Reverence, Respect) of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). Therefore, Paul is stressing holiness, sanctification, and purity in the life of the believer. He also stresses intercession (make room in your hearts, 2 Corinthians 7:2). *Application* Holiness and loving your fellow man are always important traits to be growing in as followers of Christ Jesus. How are you doing in these areas?

-Paul gives the Godly traits his demonstrated among them. He makes three important claims. He did not wrong anyone, he corrupted no one, and he took no advantage of anyone (2 Corinthians 7:2). He was not condemning them in any way; he was just making a statement about the union he had with them by the attitude of his heart. Thus he emphasized unity and togetherness to die and live in community through all situations and circumstances. He exhorted them by showing his great confidence in them by boasting of them in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:31; 5:6, 2 Corinthians 10:17). They had filled him with comfort; even in affliction he was overflowing with joy (2 Corinthians 7:4). The apostle recounts his visit to Macedonia where he had no rest (fighting without [external conflict] and fear within [self-doubt, uncertainty perhaps]). The great contrast comes when Paul teaches that it is God who comforts the downcast (2 Corinthians 7:6). God used, as is the case many times, a human instrument (Titus) to give His comfort. Titus encouraged them with the news of the Corinthians’ comfort to him and their longing, their mourning, and their zeal (2 Corinthians 7:7). Paul knew that his previous letter had caused suffering, but this was only temporal in nature because it turned them to Christ. Therefore, Paul had no regrets for this Godly confrontation. It produced the righteous results that the Lord wanted. There was rejoicing because the suffering lead to repentance. This is sorrow that is according to the will of God so that (result) they would not suffer loss in anything (2 Corinthians 7:8-9). “Godly grief (sorrow) produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief (saying sorry just because you’re in trouble or being punished) produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10).” This Godly sorrow has produced an earnestness (eagerness, enthusiasm, zeal, diligence), vindication (apologia, defense, apology, clearing of themselves), indignation (towards evil), fear (towards God), longing (for Godliness in Christ Jesus), zeal (excitement), and avenging of wrong (justice) (2 Corinthians 7:11). *Application* Here we see the awesome other side of confrontation in love and truth. There is tremendous rejoicing in true Christian repentance and fellowship when all that is good is restored. How we long for these times after conflict and distress has been experienced. Praise be to God when He brings us victoriously back together in unity and favor! What Satan means for destruction, God means for good; allow Him to bring reconciliation in every matter in your life (Genesis 50:20).

-God’s reconciliation with us and our working out of conflicts among ourselves brings great comfort (2 Corinthians 7:13). We must obey God and let love reign and rule in our lives in all circumstances. The Corinthians had proven true to their faith in obedience at this point, which was reason for great boasting in the Lord on their behalf by Paul and Titus. This reveals again the apostle’s great love for this body of believers. He has extreme confidence in them even though there had been some tough times. *Application* Let us not ever lose sight of the final-linear goal that is before us in Christ Jesus. In other words, keep the end in mind always. The giving of grace and mercy is bound up in the heart of God and should be exuded in our lives as well. Let your Light shine (Matthew 5:16)!

 

Verses to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 7:1, 6, 10

Monday, January 28, 2013

2 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 6


2 Corinthians 6

 

-The appeal in chapter 6 begins with not receiving the grace of God in vain (emptiness, without truth or power). God makes His promise that at the favorable time He will listen to us when we cry out to Him. He will save us in the day of salvation, call upon Him (2 Corinthians 6:2). The apostle puts no stumbling block, or obstacle, in anyone’s way to accepting the Christ as Lord.

-Even though Paul and his fellow workers in Christ have gone through so much, they are willing vessels for the sake of the Corinthians, and others, to further the gospel and Christ’s Kingdom (see list in 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 for all their labors and difficulties with joy). They have hearts that are wide open in love and affection and have spoken freely putting no restriction on the hearers of their Word. Paul begs that in return they open their affections and hearts wide unto the things of God continually (2 Corinthians 6:11-13). *Application* God may ask us to go through a lot with Him as our Lord and guide in this life. No matter what the cost, be willing to go with Him in His power. He is always with us and will never leave us or forsake us no matter what the challenge. By truthful speech and the power of God, rest in His abundant faithfulness no matter what the circumstance or situation. He is able, rejoice always, make many rich, and possess everything (2 Corinthians 6:10)!

-Now Paul reiterates a common theme as he purports the advantages of being the Temple of the Living God as a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He first admonition is not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. He also tells us not to partner with lawlessness, then he tells us not to have fellowship with darkness. Christ has no accord with Belial (worthlessness, destruction from the Hebrew, Paul uses this term to describe the work of Satan here). We are not to share in the portion with unbelievers and have agreement in the idolatrous workings of the faithless. As living Temples, we are to go out from among the midst from the ungodly separating from them and touching no unclean thing (Isaiah 52:11, 2 Corinthians 6:17, Revelation 18:4). *Application* We are God’s people. He is a Father to us. He is the Lord Almighty and we have no other god or gods that can compare or replace Him. Give Him room to operate in His Temple, your heart and your being. Be a consecrated, sacrificial vessel of praise and glory as you live your life crucified to self and living unto the Lord (Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 3:3, Galatians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:4-11, and many more).

 

Verse to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 6:2

Saturday, January 26, 2013

2 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4


2 Corinthians 4

 

-Paul draws some conclusions from his previous insight developed in chapter 3. He affirms that the believers’ ministry is by the mercy of God and that we should never lose heart (a theme that runs through the book and this chapter, 2 Corinthians 4:1, 16). Because of this mercy, all hidden, dark, and shameful things must be exposed to the light of God for repentance and forgiveness. We are to renounce disgraceful (shameful, walk in deceit), underhanded (craftiness, trickery), and cunning ways (2 Corinthians 4:2). We are not to tamper (adulterate, distort, water down) with God’s Word. The truth will manifest itself through the ministry of the Word through His anointed ministers, which will be commended (much admired, highly praised) to everyone’s conscience. This may not be apparent to those who are perishing with the veil still covering their eyes. The god of this world (Satan) has blinded these in unbelief and they are kept from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ Jesus, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). God shines the light of His Son in our hearts rescuing us from darkness and giving us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6, Acts 26:18). *Application* Here we see the light of the gospel and the power of the Word of God in the life of the believer. We see much watering down of the Word in today’s culture by the de-emphasis on Scriptural teaching and application. We in the American church have been reduced to moral platitudes and cultural norms so as not to offend our brethren with offensive language or a judgmental spirit. The Word of God does bring conviction and humbles us when we come underneath Its authority. Anything less produces a tower of Babel society. We are reaping what we have sown because we have strayed off of the straight and narrow path of God’s righteousness. “Return!” the LORD God says for My mercy.

-Because of the work of Christ Jesus, the glory of the LORD can now reside in the believer to help them overcome all of life’s troubles in these “jars of clay” (earthen vessels, 2 Corinthians 4:7). Afflictions, perplexities, persecutions, being struck down, and dying physical deaths are all part of this existence as a chosen follower of Christ Jesus, but we have staying power, hope, union, resurrection, and life in return (2 Corinthians 4:8-15). *Application* Christ is our life and will cost us everything when we fully submit to His will and His authority. We would be most pitied if it weren’t for the hope of resurrection and His eternal Kingdom (1 Corinthians 15). However, our lives are not in vain IN Christ, because we are being renewed in the inner man daily by His Spirit’s presence and have the energy and strength to do His work for as long as He requires on this earth. Even though it may at many times be a hard and desperate struggle, it is certainly worth it because of the joy set before us and the reward that is coming to those of faith (Hebrews 10:36; 11:6; 12:1-3, 2 John 1:8, Revelation 22:12). “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient (temporal, lasting only for a time), but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).”

 

Verses to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 4:7, 18

Friday, January 25, 2013

2 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3


2 Corinthians 3

 

-Chapter 3 can be summed up “finding the glory of the Spirit of the LORD in the New Covenant through Christ Jesus.” Paul begins with rhetorical questions on commendation to which, by verse two, Paul says that the Corinthian believers were the “letter of recommendation” written in the apostles’ hearts. These “letters” (the believers) were known and read by all men. *Application* We are a letter sent out into the world by God Himself. Live sent!

-Paul is telling the Corinthians they are manifested as a letter of Christ Jesus, cared for and growing with equipping from the apostles not with ink or stone (the Old Covenant), but with the Spirit of the Living God in the human heart of faith. Christ is our confidence with respect towards God (2 Corinthians 3:4). Verse five goes on to relate that since our sufficiency is not in ourselves (it is from God, He is the source), we have done nothing to merit adequacy on our own. It is God through His Spirit and the work of Jesus Christ that has made us ample as servants of a New Covenant of the Spirit, which gives life unveiled! *Application* The Spirit filled life is a work of God alone and we must realize this. A puffed up and arrogant attitude of righteous superiority can easily come into play when we feel we are doing well. But be careful, our adequacy is from the Lord and in His strength. Don’t go it alone or you will be left striving in your own strength and find yourself struggling, tired, and worn out. It is all IN Christ!

-The writer presents a contrast now between the letter (referring to the Law of the Torah, the Old Covenant), which has the ministry of death and kills with its potency, and the Spirit (the New Covenant purchased in Christ’s blood, Luke 22:20), which brings life and indwells the believer for power and glory in the Lord. Paul says both the letter and the Spirit come with glory, but the letter (the ministry of condemnation) was fading; whereas the glory of the Spirit (the ministry of righteousness) was abounding more and more, from glory to glory. This, Paul rightly concludes, means that what had glory (the Law, the letter) is now surpassed by the glory of the New Covenant in the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Spirit’s glory remains whereas the glory of the letter faded. The result in verse twelve is that because of this hope within us of the Spirit we have great boldness in our attitudes, words, and life. We need no veil, like Moses did, because we will never fade or grow dim. Paul says that there is still (which goes to even our current era) a veil over the hardened Hebrews because Christ is the only One who can remove this veil, or covering over. He is the One who brings light and understanding of the Lord’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:14-16). “The Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty, unveiling, no more bondage to sin) (2 Corinthians 3:17).” *Application* We, as New Covenant believers, have the unveiling, and we are beholding the true glory of the Lord as we are transformed into His image from glory (letter, the pointing to) to glory (the Spirit, life eternal) through the work of Christ Jesus on the cross of Calvary (the construction of the phrase would be translated literally “from glory into glory,” 2 Corinthians 3:18). Live life fully (John 10:10)! Remember that with great freedom comes great responsibility. God holds us accountable to live in His power and do His great and mighty deeds as we live by His Spirit in newness of life. Any less will grieve and quench His Spirit and Its operation in your life. Be bold in your faith!

 

Verses to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 3:5, 16-18

Thursday, January 24, 2013

2 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 2


2 Corinthians 2

 

-Paul, perhaps for his own sake, determined he would not come to the Corinthians in the sorrow of a painful visit again. He is genuinely hurt by the events and words spoken in strife, pride, and anger, which have had a factious effect on the church and his relationship with them. Even though he had had great joy and rejoicing in ministering to them, there had been some hard times. He had to write to them out of anguish of heart and much affliction with many tears. In other words, there had been some things happen that caused him great distress. He didn’t want to cause them pain; he was trying to let them know of his abundant love toward them (2 Corinthians 2:4). *Application* Sometimes the best of our intentions have a temporarily negative effect when people take what we have to say in regards to words of correction the wrong way. Our society, much like what Paul probably experienced, would rather avoid conflict than to confront with correction. It is a painful process sometimes when we have to give or receive a hard word even if it is meant for benefit in love (Psalm 141:5, Proverbs 27:5-6). Be responsive to people when they might have a criticism or reprove. It may just be the oil of healing for your soul. Be wise when you have to give a word from the Lord in correction. Let your love flow down as the forbearing spirit.

-Forgiveness becomes the theme of the next few verses as Paul discusses an unknown matter where severe punishment was handed out too excessively. Paul begs for the Corinthian church to reaffirm their love for this brother so that he would not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow. Paul makes an astute observation at the end of his comments here that we would do well to glean from. We are in a spiritual war with an enemy. We are not to be outwitted by Satan for we are not ignorant of his schemes (designs, plans, 2 Corinthians 2:11). *Application* One of the factors in our spiritual warfare that we need to consider here in context is wounding another brother or sister in Christ beyond repair. Satan’s design is to fragment and tear us apart, and he is really good at it. We must remember that we are all one body in Christ and should suffer sorrow alongside one another when there is not only pain, but sinful retribution (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is a good word for us to heed as we consider how Christians should live in community. Lack of forgiveness opens the door for satanic attack. Don’t be ignorant of the devil’s schemes!

-Paul now focuses on how we triumph in Christ always with thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 2:14). We are the fragrance (smell, odor) of the knowledge of the Lord everywhere we go as believers. To those who are being saved we are a sweet smelling aroma of Christ unto life (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). The opposite is also true. As we represent our Lord and His favor, those who are in the process of dying are offended and smell that aroma as a stench of death in their nostrils since they know they are perishing without hope (2 Corinthians 2:16). *Application* As believers we radiate the Lord in our lives. Realize the impact you have on those you come in contact with and exude the fragrance of Christ in every place.

-Paul states as the chapter ends that we are not peddlers (corrupt deceivers, fakes, phonies) of God’s Word for profit (this could be material or for prideful power). In contrast, we are to be sincere (pure motives) with the message of Christ. We are commissioned by God for this essential and authoritative work as we speak Christ Jesus and His plan for meaning and purpose in life through salvation (2 Corinthians 2:17). *Application* There should absolutely be a seriousness to the call of God in your life. Don’t do things flippantly or with the wrong motives. Have you no fear of God? He demands our holiness in the endeavor to make disciples of all nations. In the end it will not matter how much money you made or what position you had here on this earth. Keep this always in mind as you serve the Lord with a pure heart.

 

 

Verse to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 2:15

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 1


2 Corinthians 1

 

-Paul begins this second letter to the church in Corinth and all the saints in Achaia that has been preserved by antiquity after sending Timothy to check their response to 1 Corinthians (Acts 19:22, 1 Corinthians 16:10-11), receiving discouraging news, visiting them with a painful visit, and writing another letter to them, which has been lost in antiquity. This was a tearful letter with apparently very severe language warning the church of God’s judgment if they did not repent (2 Corinthians 2:3-4; 7:8-16). To Paul’s great joy most of them did repent, which Paul found out about through Titus in Macedonia (2 Corinthians 7:5-7). Thus the stage is set for this se cond letter and its myriad of themes and issues that still needed addressing in this local body with significance to all of the church age.

-Paul begins the letter by defending and asserting his apostleship of Christ Jesus by the will of God (2 Corinthians 1:1). He blesses them with the usual words of grace and peace before going into an extended section of gratitude and thanksgiving to God for His mercies and comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-11). The Lord is the One who comforts in all our affliction for the purpose of encouraging us to comfort others in their affliction. While there is abundant suffering, there is the contrast of abundant comfort through the agency of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:5). Paul even says his affliction is for the people’s comfort and ultimately their salvation as they endure (2 Corinthians 1:6). There is a commonality and partaking in this suffering they are experiencing, which produces a hope firmly grounded in the bond of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:7). There is a communication of suffering to make his readers aware of this tribulation that burdened them to the point of despair, even of life, and their strength in themselves was totally gone (2 Corinthians 1:8). This happened so that they would not trust in themselves, but in God who can raise even the dead (1 Corinthians 15, canonical tie, 2 Corinthians 1:9). God is our hope for deliverance and it is applied to this situation as far as their physical well-being (2 Corinthians 1:10). Paul finishes this first section with a call for intercession through a commendation of these Corinthian believers (2 Corinthians 1:11). *Application* We are reminded in this passage that painful and arduous times are part of the Christian walk. When these events occur remember to depend on God, your personal deliverer and salvation. We cannot walk in our own strength and the Lord has very real ways of reminding us of that.

-Paul begins a new section defending his integrity as he communicates having a holy, simple, and sincere conscience not based on fleshly wisdom, but he wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-4:21, 2 Corinthians 1:12). Paul, as always keeps a view of the end (in the day of our Lord Jesus) as he wants them to fully understand the importance of their enduring faith. Paul is sure in his convictions and God’s call. He is not vacillating because his Lord is faithful in His Word, which makes us sure and steadfast without wavering (2 Corinthians 1:17-22). The promises of God are yes and yes. It is God who establishes and anoints us together (unity) in (agent) Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-26, 2 Corinthians 1:21). God has sealed the believer (past tense- completed action) evidenced because He has given us the Holy Spirit as a pledge (legal term for down payment, His fullness is our joy and hope) in our hearts (2 Corinthians 1:22). Therefore, it is our faith in His work that establishes and makes firm (this is present and ongoing) His promises as we labor, not in pride or arrogance, but in unity and joy (2 Corinthians 1:23-24). *Application* We, as the ancient Corinthians, need to understand the great theological implications of Paul’s words here. God’s Spirit in us is the guarantee of salvation. We need not operate in fear any longer when we realize that He continually is related to us and has sealed us for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). When we are filled with His Spirit we are freed to live a life of worship and fullness of joy no matter what the situation or circumstance that surrounds us. Abound in His grace (2 Corinthians 9:8)!

 

Verses to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 16


1 Corinthians 16

 

-Paul begins to finish up his instruction to his readers now with calling for a piece-by-piece collection for the saints in Jerusalem that is to be brought in on the first day of the week (Sunday). This is so no collection will need to be made when he comes that will be a burden to them. *Application* This is a good recommendation for us as well when it comes to our alms. Give generously and in increments that are spread out so you can keep it in your budget and not go into debt or anything unbiblical like that.

-Paul talks some about his future plans and his work in Ephesus, which has had a wide door for effective work even though there had been many adversaries (1 Corinthians 16:8). He gives some instruction on how to treat Timothy, information on their brother Apollos, and how they should act being watchful, standing firm in the faith, acting like men, being strong, and working together in love (1 Corinthians 16:10-14). He pleas for them to be subject to the blessed saints, like the household of Stephanas and others, and to give recognition to such people that give refreshing and encouragement (1 Corinthians 16:15-18). Some final hellos from the saints in Ephesus are given before Paul writes in his own hand to love the Lord or be cursed and begs for His coming (Maranatha, 1 Corinthians 16:21-22). He speaks grace over the Corinthians, even after chastising them boldly and tells them finally that he loves them in Christ Jesus truly (1 Corinthians 16:23-24). *Application* Even when we have to discipline someone in the Lord, we need to make sure they know that we love them deeply and care about them to a great extent. Correction without love profits very little if any at all.

 

Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Monday, January 21, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 15


1 Corinthians 15

 

-This is the great resurrection chapter in Scripture that I believe gives us the clearest understanding of our resurrected state in Christ Jesus as Paul explains for his beloved brothers. It would be vain to live in Christ for this life only. Paul says we as believers in the Messiah would be the most pitied people in the world if the resurrection were not a reality (1 Corinthians 15:19). Some in Corinth were falsely stating that there was no resurrection from the dead, and Paul is making a case for the afterlife in this chapter for their building up as the body of Christ. His explanation revolves around the comment, “flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50).” There must be a spiritual birth here on earth through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we become His we are saved for a resurrection at the point of physical death as the imperishable body that the Lord gives us overtakes the perishable one (our earth suit if you will). Our bodies will be like Christ’s resurrected body, not that we will be deity, but we will have the eternal qualities for life with Him forever. Paul uses the illustrations of different kinds of animals and their differences in flesh types along with the seed, which has died but has life within it. *Application* It is important for us to think about these illustrations and apply them to our understanding. What is the difference between a small stone and a seed? The seed has life inside it that is latent until the appropriate time. Our physical bodies have death in them because of sin and its effects. We are doomed to perish in our physical state; it is running down and aging quickly. However, the hope of God is a new existence in an immortal body that will be very real and very exciting. Death will have no more dominion and power over us through the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, our firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20).

-In the eschaton, Christ will subject Himself to the Father who had put all things in subjection under Him for the reconciliation of mankind to Himself (1 Corinthians 15:28). This is done so “that God may be all in all.” In other words, there is complete love, oneness, and unity between all parties involved. This is the inseparable quality of the Trinity as the work of regeneration is completed in its full glory. We can see in this verse the humility and generosity of the Godhead in a very clear sense. *Application* Paul says in Ephesians 5:21 to be “subject to one another.” This is an important Godly principle for us to observe. Remember to give honor to those around you every day. They are important in the eyes of the Lord, and should be to you as well.

-Paul ends the chapter with exposing a mystery concerning the time of the end, when the trumpet shall sound. He says not all shall sleep (a reference to physical death), but will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). This is the moment of putting on the imperishable in a unique circumstance it appears from the text. This would be one of the proof texts for what some theologians call “the rapture” of the church or “the ingathering.” Another passage that may indicate this event is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (the word used here in this passage translated “caught up,” arpazo, means snatched up or carried off).

-Paul’s main point in this entire section on the resurrection is that our faith and labor in Christ is not in vain in any way because of the hope we have for eternity. Death is swallowed up in victory and has no sting (Isaiah 25:8, 1 Corinthians 15:54-55)! Therefore, we are to be steadfast, immoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord! *Application* Work with the end in mind as you labor in His power. We will inherit the imperishable!

 

Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 15:33, 53, 58

Sunday, January 20, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 14


1 Corinthians 14

 

-Paul outlines the order for a proper and in order church service here in the 14th chapter of his letter to the Corinthians. His first exhortation is to pursue love and to earnestly (diligently) desire these spiritual gifts that he delineated in chapter 12. His primary concern is that they prophesy, this is speaking the Word of God with intelligible tongue from the Scriptures and in complete congruence with the Scriptures. It could at times be foretelling (speaking God’s future plans and events), but is in most cases forthtelling (teaching directly from the Word of God). The purpose of prophesy for the church is to build it up in Christ Jesus, the Head. Paul has to curb some misuses of the spiritual gifts here as he gives the proper manner for which to speak in unknown languages, or tongues, given to some in the church as their spiritual language in communion with God. This was probably the main source of contention and where arrogant attitudes that were causing divisions were coming from. Tongues were unintelligible and had no purpose for the building up of the church unless there was an interpretation. It was Paul’s encouragement that they all speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:5). The issue was connection with the unbelievers and helping them understand the message of Christ that was being presented in a church service. If there was chaos and confusion the unbelievers that would come into the hearing of the Christian believers would more than likely be turned off by this incoherent communication. Therefore, Paul says he would rather speak five words with his mind than ten thousand words in a tongue, which no one could understand (1 Corinthians 14:19). Paul is certainly not against speaking in tongues during a church service of gathered saints as he makes clear, but there is a proper order for given so that the church may be built up rather than torn down by chaos and confusion (1 Corinthians 14:39). A word in tongues is allowed as long as there is someone to interpret; otherwise, the one who speaks in a spiritual language should remain silent speaking to himself and to God (1 Corinthians 14:28). There were to be two or three prophets who would speak while the congregation would weigh (discriminate, judge, evaluate) what was being said. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets with discernment (1 Corinthians 14:32). There was to be one-by-one revelation and prophecy spoken so that all may learn and be encouraged for God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:30-32). *Application* Nothing stirs up unease and spiritual distress in a congregation more than when things are chaotic and out of order. Paul is telling us that the Lord will only bring peace and proper process in the speaking of His Word to the church. If something is going on in a church service that distracts from the clear teaching of His Word, it is improper and should be handled with spiritual discernment and action by those who are lead by the Holy Spirit. We must understand that when we are dealing in a spiritual realm, there is an enemy who would like to come in and tear down the good work of God and create confusion and mistrust of the things of the Holy Spirit. This is a warning for us to heed. “All things should be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).”

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 14:40

Saturday, January 19, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 13


1 Corinthians 13

 

-Paul now shows his readers the more excellent way of love in this monumental-climatic chapter in this letter and an epic chapter in all of Scripture. He begins by announcing how everything in the Christian life is vain and worthless without the essential ingredient of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Having eloquent language, communing with God in the Spirit with the tongues of angels, prophesying, complete understanding and knowledge, unwavering faith to move mountains, total generosity, and even martyrdom is absolutely nothing without love (the agape Greek form of love is used throughout this passage, the highest love form). *Application* Doing Christian service without the right heart attitude of love renders us null and void of doing the Lord’s real bidding. It would be like making an omelet without the eggs. It just doesn’t work.

-Paul now defines what love looks like (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). It is patient (it waits) and kind (merciful and compassionate). It does not envy (jealous, competitive heart), boast (prideful attitude, bragging), or act rude in arrogance (puffed up, inflated with ego, act disgraceful). Love does not insist on having its own way (self-seeking); it is not irritable (provoked to wrath, angered) or resentful (take into account an evil, bitterness). It does not rejoice at wrongdoing (injustice), but does rejoice when the truth is revealed. Love bears all things (forebears, puts up with a lot), believes all things (is trusting and trustworthy, has complete faith), hopes all things (great expectations, foresees good), endures all things (remains, stands, stays with it, holds out, abides), and never ends (never falls apart or fails). *Application* This is what love is. How are we doing with our love?

-Paul now begs his audience to grow up knowing that they need to give up childish things and let God develop them in humility with honor for one another. All of the partial things, like prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, will one day pass away when the perfect (the Greek here is teleios = completion, attainment of the end result) comes. That will come with our glorification in the eschaton when we are fully known and will fully know (1 Corinthians 13:8-12). *Application* Some cessationists will use this passage as a proof text to claim an ending of the gifting of speaking in tongues and prophesying. But, this is certainly not the contextual theme of this passage. This pericope is about becoming who we should be in Christ. It has nothing to do with when and how these spiritual gifts will actually cease. The important thing for us to think about in this section is how can we become more and more like our Lord and Savior in the fullness of His love (Philippians 3:12-16).

-Faith, hope, and love abide (remain, stay), and the greatest of these three is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). *Application* The message of our Living God is love from the first commandment to the last. Let love dominate your life as you think about your Creator and your dealings with your fellow man.

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, January 18, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 12


1 Corinthians 12

 

-Paul opens up a new section now concerning questions and instructions on spiritual gifts. Keep in mind that he is still making the case for unity in the body, which he makes extremely explicit here in this passage, versus the divisions and factions that are currently plaguing the Corinthian church. He wants them to understand that they are all in this Kingdom thing together and that a culture of honor is paramount for their witness and effectiveness in Christ.

-Paul, speaking through the Holy Spirit, delineates the different spiritual giftings that God has so composed and ordained for His church (1 Corinthians 12:6, 18) for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7). He lists wisdom, the utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy (proclamation of the truth of God, forth telling and fore telling), discerning of spirits, various kinds of tongues (could be linguistic skills or supernatural abilities), and the interpretation of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). He also lists apostleship, teaching, helping, and administrating in addition (1 Corinthians 12:28). This is not an exhaustive list in my opinion. There are other potential places in Scripture we can look to in order to find even more gifts of the Spirit of God (Romans 12:6-8, Ephesians 4:8-12, 1 Peter 4:10-11). The important thing to remember here is that the same Lord is unifying all these many parts into a homologous whole with no division by His Spirit working within us (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-13, 25-27).

-Paul uses the one body with many parts approach to help everyone understand the unity with diversity concept. This illustration was known to many he was writing to in the Greek world because of the works of Plato, who also used this analogy [Rosamond Kent Sprague, "Parmenides, Plato, and 1 Corinthians 12," Journal of Biblical Literature 86, no. 2 (June 1967): 213]. He strategically uses parts less presentable (feet and ears) in comparison to the more presentable parts (hands and eyes) to demonstrate the necessity for each part of the body in making it complete in its functionality. He also makes valid points for the unpresentable parts (for instance our heart and brain, sexual organs, etc.) being absolutely indispensable for the proper functioning of the body. The point should be clear enough; every person is vital to the common good of Christ’s body, the church, and there should be no divisions. “If one member suffers, all suffer; if one member is honored, all rejoice together (1 Corinthians 12:26).” Suffering together produces the important Christian trait of compassion and rejoicing together as a body eliminates jealousy and envy. *Application* Paul is teaching us the importance of valuing one another in the body of Christ at every level, which fulfills the law of Christ (Romans 12:10, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 2:1-8). He will go on to teach the more excellent way of love in the next chapter, which is the quintessential virtue of the Christian. Therefore, from the least of these to the most prominent positions in the body of Christ, we should realize the extreme importance of each individual, designed by God for a specific task or tasks. Honor and totally respect everyone!

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 18

Thursday, January 17, 2013

1 Corithians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 11


1 Corinthians 11

 

-In this chapter Paul addresses two concerns for the church in Corinth, one he commends their actions, and the other he does not commend. He begins with his commendation (praise) of their following in the traditions he delivered to them as far as head coverings (1 Corinthians 11:1-16). The issue here is over authority and properly recognizing order in the church of God. *Application* All authority originates with the Heavenly Father and flows down from His throne. There should be proper respect given at each level for the edification of the body as a whole. This is the culture of honor that God wants in His church (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12). The situation seemed to be adequate in this church, but can be an issue as we know in a world where women’s desire is often to dominate men and entire organizations (Genesis 3:16). This was part of the curse when sin entered the world and has become known as a Jezebel spirit of demonic proportions (1 Kings 16-21, 2 Kings 9, Revelation 2:20-23). The point is for all of us to recognize all God-given authority in His church for the proper respect, process, and order.

-Next Paul corrects some misuse of the Lord’s Supper as the believers had been coming to the table of communion improperly and with greed (1 Corinthians 11:17-33). Paul again reiterates, for the purpose of correction and edification, their errors with factions and divisions displaying arrogant attitudes within the body of Christ. He strongly rebukes their insincere manner of coming before the Lord’s alter of remembrance of His body and blood. He tells them that many are weak and ill because of their disobedience and some have even died (1 Corinthians 11:30). Paul asks them to judge themselves “truly” when they come to the table so that they would not have to be judged by God (1 Corinthians 11:31). The righteous judgment of God disciplines so that we may not be condemned along with the unsaved world (1 Corinthians 11:32). *Application* The Bible says that judgment should begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). After we get the log out of our own eye and can see clearly (Matthew 7:5, Luke 6:42), we have a responsibility to guide and correct those within the church with Christian-brotherly love and kindness. This is what accountability is all about and keeps each of us from wondering off the straight and narrow path of God’s way. I would rather be corrected by Godly men than by God, wouldn’t you?

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 11:31

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 10


1 Corinthians 10

 

-Paul offers some stern and serious warnings for purity unto God without any hint of idolatry. He emphasizes their oneness in Christ comparing it to the nation of Israel as they were under the cloud and passed through the sea as one unified congregation. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank of the same spiritual drink from the same spiritual Rock, which was Christ Jesus (looking forward to the Promise of Him, 1 Corinthians 10:3). This sets up his entire thought process with which he ends with the idea that “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).” The problem was that the Corinthians, like the children of Israel, were displeasing the LORD in their desire for doing evil and would incur the wrath of God if there was not a turning back to Him even though they were His beloved children. The summation is this, “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).” Paul then assures them that what they are being tempted with is not beyond their ability to overcome through the power of His presence in their lives. God always provides a way of escape during temptation (or distress, trial, tribulation), that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). *Application* This is a promise we will need to cling to often in our Christian walk. Though the journey is never easy as a saint, it is possible when we crucify our flesh as Jesus commanded, take up our cross daily, and follow Him (Matthew 10:38, Luke 9:23). What we find is joy in the offering and abundant life in Christ through His resurrection power and Spirit that indwells and controls us (John 10:10, Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 7:4).

-Paul makes sure he is explicit in his warning for them to flee from idolatry. The cup of blessing, which is in the union with Christ and His body, should exclude from participation with demons or demonic activity (1 Corinthians 10:14-21). Such a defiant attitude will provoke the LORD to jealousy out of His intense love for His children and He will act in His superior strength (1 Corinthians 10:22). *Application* Just as the Corinthians needed to heed the proper warning of the apostle, so should we. We find ourselves at times compromising with the world and its lusts, which can take us far from God and His good pleasure with us. We must not grieve or quench His Spirit by our attitudes, thoughts, words, and actions. Stay away from even the appearance (form, sight) of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). In other words, run to God and away from Satan (1 Timothy 6:9-11, James 4:7).

-Paul now comes back to the point of being a good influence on your neighbor and not causing any offense or reason for stumbling, particularly in the area of meat which has been offered to idols which he had discussed in the previous two chapters (1 Corinthians 8 & 9). He gives some good practical advice for how to handle these situations for the purpose of helping unbelievers come to Christ with saving faith. *Application* We must always be careful not to cause offense, especially with our unbelieving friends. They, weather it is right or not, will hold us to certain standards of conduct as they become aware that we are believers in Jesus Christ and His Word. Our conduct around them is important because they are looking for hypocrisy and any chance to deny the faith that we know is so real and true. Notice the tests of conscience your unbelieving friends will put you through and respond with Paul’s Holy Spirit filled antidotes for proper Christian responses. Apply his principles to your own life situations and God will give you favor.

 

Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 10:12-13, 31

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 9


1 Corinthians 9

 

-In chapter 9, Paul defends his apostleship and his rights as a minister of the Word of God for the purpose of showing the Corinthian believers, and us, the value of laying down rights for others benefit. He in some way feels like he needs to defend against those who would examine him (1 Corinthians 9:3). These might have been those “divided” in the faith in a different camp from Paul’s in disunity and raising arguments against the apostle. He defends himself particularly in the areas of taking a wife and financial reward from the preaching of the gospel.

-However, his point in the argument is to show them that he has not made use of these rights for the purpose of putting absolutely no obstacle in the way of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 9:12). He had no intention of being a burden to them in any way. In fact he says it would take away and deprive him of boasting since his purpose was to bring them the gospel out of called necessity (1 Corinthians 9:15-16). He was entrusted with a stewardship (an office, administration, commission) to present the gospel free of charge in order to make full use of his right in the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:17-18). Paul had made himself a servant (literally a slave) to all that he might win them to the Lord and His salvation (1 Corinthians 9:19). He became all things to all people, Law and otherwise, in order that he save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). The blessings of the benefit of the gospel of Jesus Christ far outweighed any personal comfort to himself in this man of God’s opinion (1 Corinthians 9:23). *Application* This plan of attack was contrary to the usual manner of winning the world with personal power, fame, and fortune. This was again, the wisdom of God over the wisdom of man (Corinthians 1:18-4:21). Paul demonstrated what it means to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). We need to take God’s view of things and give up personal rights when it comes to presenting and making a case for the gospel of Christ and winning people to the Savior. Don’t be a burden, be a blessing!

-In the final paragraph of this chapter Paul makes a case for self-discipline in the Christian race and boxing match (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). The exhortation is to run in such a way that you might win the prize of the high calling of Christ Jesus and an imperishable wreath exercising self-control in all things. Paul writes how believers need to have aim in their faith pursuits and not shadow box without any purpose. Discipline is the key ingredient that he discusses here for proper control and qualification in the Kingdom of God. *Application* This is a clarion call for self-examination for proper exaltation in our ministry. Too many lose their focus in the mission God has called them to for a variety of reasons. Some want more financial success, some get discouraged because of the conflicts and spiritual warfare that are inevitable in Christian service, some get sidetrack with immoral choices and the pull of this world. Whatever the case, Paul’s challenge for us is to keep our eyes focused on Christ Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). Know what you’re called to do by God and do it faithfully with endurance! Your testimony can become disqualified losing spiritual power.

 

Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 9:22, 27

Monday, January 14, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 8


1 Corinthians 8

 

-Paul answers a question now in chapter 8 concerning food offered to idols and the right to eat it. The overriding concept here is that strong believers with a healthy view of who they are in Christ apart from the Law need to consider their weaker brothers and sisters so as to not be a stumbling block causing them to sin in their conscience.

-Paul purports the fact that all of them posses knowledge. This knowledge if one is not careful will puff up rather than do the work of love in building up (1 Corinthians 8:1). This important and constant theme in this letter is reiterated to stress the fruit of humility and love so that the blessings of the Lord can flow and people can be known by God (1 Corinthians 8:3). *Application* To be known by the Lord is paramount to our eternal state (Matthew 7:20-24). Paul says here that our love of God is an important factor in being known by God, which is the same response Jesus gave when asked what the greatest commandment was (Matthew 22:36-38, Mark 12:28-30, Luke 10:25-28). This is also the great commandment in the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:4-8). It’s really simple when we break it down. Love God (which means you will follow and obey all He commands out of gratitude and devotion) and He will make Himself known to you in a relationship that will abide forever. This is the connection with our Maker we so desire and crave! Beautiful endings!

-Paul goes on to make the point that there are actually no such things as idols (1 Corinthians 8:4). They are mirages that placate and temporarily appease the weak in faith. The true spiritual believers know that there is only “One God, the Father, from which are all things and for whom we exist, and One Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist (1 Corinthians 8:6).” Because of this, the strong in faith need not worry about what they eat in regard to meat offered to idols at the essential level. Meat tainted by idols in the pagan culture’s practices had really no affect on them as to power or Law. The situation in Corinth, and many Hellenistic cities like this, was to offer meat to the public at a reduced rate after it had gone through the process of being offered to the mythological gods in their pagan rituals. The Corinthian church was wondering if it was kosher to purchase and eat such meat as believers in Christ Jesus. Paul is basically telling them that it is ok as long as you don’t become a stumbling block to your brother or sister. If you do offend them by partaking of this meat, being aware of their position in weakness, you sin against God and them by wounding their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:12). Paul says if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat it because his love for his brother pertaining to his well-being in conscience is so much more important (1 Corinthians 8:13). The key point is in verse 9, “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” *Application* This is an important principle for us to consider in our current climate in society. We may not have much meat offered to idols (although it is becoming more apparent in some Asian places of commerce), but we can offend weaker brothers and sisters with environments that are temptations to sin. For example, if I know a brother has a problem being tempted by alcohol, the worst possible place for me to take him would probably be a pro sporting event (say a baseball game). While there is nothing wrong in my conscience to going and enjoying a good ball game since I don’t drink and have no desire for it, I must consider my weaker brother and putting him in a position to be enticed to sin by drinking too much. The same could be said for some movies and such. We must consider the impact we are making on those who are around us. Never become a stumbling block to your brother or sister. While we have rights, we must live by the law of love in all cases.

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 8:9

Sunday, January 13, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 7


1 Corinthians 7

 

-Chapter 7 marks a turn in the letter to address specific issues that the church had questioned the apostle on. These questions are marked by the “Now concerning (or Peri de)” syntax construction, which will now run through the remainder of the book (1 Corinthians 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1, 12). The first issue the Corinthians were wondering about was the nature of being married as believers and what some of the requirements might be in their new found Christian faith. These were serious biblical issues at the time because of the distress that they found themselves in as believers during a time of pretty intense persecution and uncertainty (1 Corinthians 7:26). Paul gives as his judgment an overriding principle of “remain as you are (1 Corinthians 7:8, 11, 17, 20, 24, 26).” Paul emphasizes remaining single if at all possible for better devotion to the Lord and less concern about this world (1 Corinthians 7:32-35), but he does not nullify the gift of marriage in its sanctity for the perpetuation of believing families. In other words, he says it is certainly not a sin to marry (1 Corinthians 7:36). His concern is over order and proper Christian living. The one who marries in the Lord does well, the one who can remain single in devotion to the Lord does even better (1 Corinthians 7:38). *Application* While marriage is a special gift of the Lord and certainly necessary for the continuance of human existence and Christian perpetuity, being single as a follower of Christ has great reward and is a special call by God for His Kingdom and His purposes. If you are single today, don’t fret. You have the privilege of being unhindered and without burden in following the commands of the Lord for your life. This should be a exceptional encouragement for you today. If the Lord calls you to marriage, it will be plain and simple enough. For the time being, ask the Lord what He wants from you and give it all away to go His way unencumbered. Singleness is also a gift from God.

-Paul also gives some important directions on divorce here in this chapter (1 Corinthians 7:10-16). Staying with an unbelieving spouse had to be a difficult set of circumstances in their time, but the apostle warned them that they were bound to each other as long as the unbelieving spouse consented to live with the believing partner. This union had a sanctifying effect on the unbelieving spouse and the children (if there were any), which was important for Kingdom purposes because salvation may come to those who witness the spouses grace (1 Corinthians 7:12-16). Paul admits that there are situations where the non-believer will leave the spouse and separate, to which the believer is free and not enslaved anymore. God has called them to peace (1 Corinthians 7:15). *Application* Divorce comes from the hardness of mankind’s heart (Matthew 19:8, Mark 10:5). Although it is a difficult challenge, the Lord wants us to remain as we are in these life circumstances where we find ourselves unequally yoked with unbelievers. Hang in there if you find yourself in this situation. Who knows? The best may be yet to come and the Lord will certainly grant favor. My advice is this. Don’t ever leave an unbelieving spouse (you do need to get out of pre-marital relationships that are unequally yoked though) unless there is a threat of physical danger or extreme emotional distress. In that case it only makes biblical sense to flee the sin of that situation. Don’t remarry at that point. Allow the Lord time to work things out properly and in order. Remain as you are. Great biblical advice!

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 7:26

Saturday, January 12, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 6


1 Corinthians 6

 

-Paul goes on to address some more key issues he takes fault with in the Corinthian church that have become known to him in this chapter. He begins with the faulty logic and lack of wisdom some are demonstrating in not taking care of their legal matters within the body of Christ with biblical wisdom. Paul’s point in his rhetorical questioning is to make them think about how ridiculous it is for brothers and sisters in Christ to take their problems before the unrighteous to decide on these legal matters. He is obliviously referring to civic magistrates who don’t know the LORD and would probably have a tendency to be unjust anyway. It is a shame, Paul says, that this puffed up church has no one wise enough to settle these trivial disputes among one another (1 Corinthians 6:5). Paul concludes that it would actually be better to be defrauded and suffer wrong at the hands of Christian brothers than to ruin their testimony by taking their complaints against one another before ungodly authorities. It is already a defeat for them when they take this course of action (1 Corinthians 6:7-9). *Application* Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35)." This is the basis for how we should live in the church. Matthew 18:15-20 gives us further instruction on how to handle offenses within the body of Christ, which are inevitable to arise because of our capacity and propensity to sin against one another. The worst testimony we can have to a lost and dying world is to drag our complaints and problems before them. As Paul said, we as saints will judge the angels and the world (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Why can’t we then solve our internal dilemmas unto the glory of God?

-Paul now reiterates to them who they are in Christ and heirs to the Kingdom of God in comparison with those who are outside His grace and majesty. He lists characteristics that these believers had been washed clean from when they came to Christ in sanctification and justification in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). *Application* Do not be deceived. The unrighteous will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God by their sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, thievery, greed, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling ways. The only way we can get to Heaven is by accepting the washing that Christ Jesus can give as we place our trust in His perfection and sanctifying work to save us. This is the faith that purifies us and keeps us unto the day of redemption without spot or blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

-Paul now talks about the body and how it is the Temple of God, and how it is to be yoked with the Lord rather than anything pertaining to sexual immorality. The principle he begins with is that while all things may be lawful (in context here he is speaking of dietary laws), not all things are profitable and we are not to be dominated by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12). We are members of Christ and should treat our bodies with the utmost devotion to purity as a part of His body (1 Corinthians 6:15, 17, 19-20). Because of this we should never take part in joining ourselves to prostitutes (unlawful sexual activity biblically speaking, 1 Corinthians 6:15-16, 18). This is a sin against our own body and desecrates the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This was a culturally acceptable thing to do in Corinth, but absolutely detestable in the eyes of God and the apostles. *Application* We have been bought with a steep price in Christ’s death; therefore our command is to glorify God in our own bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20). Sexual immorality plagues our society just as much as it ever did in the Corinthians culture of Paul’s time. Ask the Holy Spirit to dominate your mind and thinking in this area and leave no room for impure thoughts or actions. God holds high the sanctity of marriage in His Word and a sin against the Temple of the Holy Spirit is a very serious matter.

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 6:20

Friday, January 11, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 5


1 Corinthians 5

 

-Paul now gets specific with the issues that plague the Corinthian church in their fleshly (sarkinos) living pattern that is bringing in sin upon sin into the body of Christ making it impure and diluted. He begins with a situation where a man in the congregation has taken his father’s wife (not specifically stated as his mom, but it could have been, it was more than likely a step-mom situation) in sexual immorality and was actually bragging about it as being alright (1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 6). Paul shames the individual by saying this kind of activity is not even tolerated among the pagan unbelievers of the region and that this one should be removed immediately from among them. Paul, being there with them by Spirit, delivers this one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that this man’s spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:15; 5:3-5). *Application* Paul’s reasoning should be understandable enough for us. A little leaven leavens the whole lump (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). We know the baking process and how leaven in the dough makes the whole loaf of bread rise. Unleavened bread biblically is a symbol of purity and perfection, which Christ wants in His people. This should be our expectation as we seek with all our heart to become more and more like Him. The point Paul was making needs to be properly understood. This particular man was being arrogant in the face of doing something horribly wrong and infecting the church with his blatant sinful conduct. In other words, his heart wasn’t right. Paul was all about reconciliation when trespasses occurred (1 Corinthians 4:14, Galatians 6:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:15) as long as there was a repentant heart. This situation was different because there was defiance and boasting in the face of correction. When a believer will not turn to the Lord when rebuked and remains stubborn in sin, hard and even drastic measures are called for as we see here in this passage.

-We need to celebrate the festival (i.e. the gathering of believers, the church) not with the old leaven of malice and evil (willful disobedience), but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:8). This indicates a serious nature to the activity of the Lord’s body. We are told by Paul, through the Holy Spirit, not to even associate with sexually immoral, greedy, idolatrous, reviling, drunkard, or swindling (deceitful, cheating, two-faced, false) people that claim to be believers (1 Corinthians 5:9, 11). In fact Paul says not to even eat with such a one. He is not talking about those outside the body of Christ, which he makes clear in verse 10, but those who claim Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior and still live in a perverted manner. The point should be clear that true Christians should live separated lives from the world while welcoming into the Kingdom of God those who are lost and seeking the truth of salvation. God judges those outside the church, not us, but we have every right and responsibility to purge the evil person from the church who is creating immoral influences on the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). Judgment begins at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17-19). *Application* I personally would want to be corrected by the church than by the Living God when I am in a trespass, provided they did it correctly in love and for a redemptive purpose. If we take care of each other to ensure holy and righteous living on this earth, God will not need to judge us with consequences we don’t desire. This is what we need to understand from this passage. Iron must sharpen iron (Proverbs 27:17).

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 5:6

Thursday, January 10, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 4


1 Corinthians 4

 

-Paul begins this last section on the power of God verses the wisdom of man with a comment about how the Corinthians should regard him and Apollos as servants (helpers, assistants) of Christ and stewards (managers, administrators) of the mysteries of God. First of all, Paul states that as apostles and stewards they must be found faithful. *Application* Faithfulness is key to any endeavor in life. If God has called you to do something, stick with it until He tells you that you are complete. Don’t go ahead of God and give up on something He is wanting you to finish. By His Spirit you will get a sense of completion when the task is done that He has assigned. Until that time remain faithful, and don’t burn any bridges on your way to another place. Paul shows us here that although he moved from place to place as a called apostle, he never forgot those he had labored over in Christ and loved them very much, even enough to correct their misbehavior as we see venturing further into the chapter.

-Paul goes on to say, in the context of how they are to regard him, that he is judged by the Lord alone. It becomes apparent from the text here that some hard things had been said of Paul either in a brought letter or by word of mouth from Chloe’s people (1 Corinthians 1:11). He is basically saying that he pays no attention to that judgment, or even his own judgment, because it is the Lord (His commands and precepts) that judges his heart. Christ is coming and will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose all of the purposes of each person’s heart (1 Corinthians 4:5). *Application* Your motives need to be pure. The day of judgment is approaching every man when all will be laid bare before Him. He is the righteous Judge and will expose everything, so make your confession of sin prompt and powerful. This produces no need to worry about what others will say or think about you. Take Paul’s advice and don’t even listen to your own opinion. Base your standards of right and wrong on the sole Word of God.

-So Paul has applied all these things that he has spoken on so far to himself and Apollos under the oversight of the Lord so that his flock of believers can benefit and not go beyond what is written (in other words the commands of Scripture). His message could not be any more profound and clear at this point. He wants none of the Corinthians to be arrogantly puffed up in pride favoring one person against another (1 Corinthians 4:6). He then offers a beneficial set of rhetorical questions about how everything they have is by receiving, not earning (1 Corinthians 4:7).

-In the next paragraph the author penetrates deep into their conscience with some poignant sarcasm intended to wake them up out of their prideful stupor of back biting and fighting over trivial matters, which are causing division. He compares their arrogant attitudes to the way that he and the apostles have presented themselves to them and the self-sacrificing manner in which they live to the present hour (1 Corinthians 4:9-13). *Application* God in His wisdom lowers us as His disciples from a cocky and haughty state of mind to the abased and lowly regions in order to conform us to His image (remember, He left everything in Heaven and its glory to come and give Himself up for us on this cursed earth). This is the cost of discipleship and the reason many will walk on the wide road to destruction based on self-appetite. Paul’s list of things that he endured would not get worldly acclaim, but in the eyes of God he was a pearl of great price. How are our lives in comparison to this list?

-Paul dishes out some love finally in his admonishment in the last paragraph of this chapter before he starts to answer their questions and lay out his instructions in chapter 5. He considers himself their father in the faith through the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he sternly warns them to straighten up because there is a good chance he will come personally to them for possible rebuke. He is looking for power in the wisdom and Kingdom of God over conceited talking (1 Corinthians 4:19-20). Thus he poses an almost comical question in the last verse of the chapter as their spiritual father. “What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness (1 Corinthians 4:21)?” *Application* O that we had mentors and spiritual fathers in our lives that would take this sort of authority over us in love. Fortunate is the person that has this kind of physical, emotional, and spiritual manifestation of accountability to the things we do in this life. Paul took his role seriously as we can see here in the text, and so should we if we have oversight in our home or ministry. Be a good leader. Be someone you can tell people to imitate (1 Corinthians 4:16).

 

Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 4:2, 5

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 3


1 Corinthians 3

 

-Paul begins this chapter, still in the context of God’s wisdom over man’s supposed smarts, by telling his readers that he could not even address them as spiritual people, which they should have been in Christ (Romans 8). He has to speak to them in a corrective manner as people of flesh who need rebuke and admonishment as infants (babies) IN Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). He must give them milk at this point rather than solid food because they are not spiritually ready for it (1 Corinthians 3:2). The jealousy and strife are the living proof of this fleshly (sarkikos in the Greek) and naturally human life style that the Corinthians are entrenched in. This is the spirit that has lead to their divisions and arguments (quarrels) over leadership and followship.

-Paul sets the record straight that it is neither him or Apollos that is anything of consequence other than what they do in Christ. The Lord is the one who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6, 11). He and Apollos are together as one as servants (diakonos in Greek from which we get deacon). They are ministering in tandem for the sake of the foundation, which is Jesus Christ. They consider themselves nothing in this service and Paul on his part is giving full credit to the wisdom of God for all spiritual instruction and building up in the body of the church. This is gold, silver, and precious stones that stand the test of time and is valuable for the Kingdom and will be rewarded. On the other hand, if anyone builds on the foundation of Christ with wood, hay, or straw that work will become manifest on the Day of Judgment (this is the bema seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10, not the Great White Throne Judgment, Revelation 20:11-15). These works will be burned up (of no eternal use in other words) even though the believers will be saved “as through fire,” which means they will get to Heaven for eternity (1 Corinthians 3:15). *Application* Here we see the evidence of what we often call carnal Christianity. This is a life that has believed in God and His message, yet stays in an infant like state and lives in the flesh with mind and practice all too often. This is a wasted life in so many respects as it does not give glory to the One who saved them, and this is the most miserable way to life if you are a believer. Believers have the Holy Spirit in them and conviction is always present if you are going wayward. If you are living a life without regret and consequences for the sinful things you are doing, you had better check yourself to see if you really are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Work out your salvation with fear and trembling examining yourself constantly to make sure you are following the proper authority in Jesus Christ, the foundation and perfecter of our faith (Philippians 2:12-13, Hebrews 12:1-2).

-Paul talks about our body being the temple of God because of the fact that His Spirit dwells within us as believers. This is a holy temple that is fluid and mobile as living stones as opposed to the physical Temple in Jerusalem, where His presence had been manifested during the Kingdom of Israel (1 Peter 2:4-11). Paul says if anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him (1 Corinthians 3:17). *Application* These are obviously strong words of exhortation and admonition to the Corinthian church and to us today. We are to treat our bodily vessels in complete honor before our Lord. Don’t abuse your body with corruption. This has to do with many things physical and spiritual, even emotional and social. Paul has to deal with the many sins that were called to his attention in Corinth, but it has the same power for edification today with us if we will recognize what God is saying in His Word. Be holy and blameless before Him. Build on His foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones. In these materials the fires of life have a purifying quality and draw us closer to the Savior and Lord of our lives. Do what is right! We are Christ’s and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:23). Be wise in God, not yourself.

 

Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 3:6, 11

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 2


1 Corinthians 2

 

-Paul through the Spirit’s wisdom instructs with this idea that God’s folly is superior to the wisest wisdom of man as he continues his message to the Corinthians in chapter 2. He gives testimony that he personally did not come to them with lofty speech or human wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:1). Paul could have come to them with high theological speech and superior intellect for he was certainly trained by the best in Judaism (Acts 22:3, Philippians 3:4-8). But instead, he decided to preach only Jesus Christ and Him crucified because this is the simple truth of God’s love toward sinful mankind. *Application* The point should be clear. We share Christ out our own weakness, fear, and trembling, not with human, plausible words of wisdom. Our message rests in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power by and of God alone.

-To the mature, Paul says, we can impart (impart is a key word here in this section) wisdom. This is not the wisdom of the natural age in which we live, which is doomed to pass away, but in the wisdom from God that is secret and hidden from the worldly wise (1 Corinthians 2:6-7). If worldly rulers understood this wisdom of God they would never have killed the Lord Jesus on the tree (1 Corinthians 2:8). These are things that can only be revealed by the Spirit, who searches everything, even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). The Spirit is the One who comprehends what God is doing and manifests it to our heart when we humbly receive it by His authority and power (1 Corinthians 2:11-13). Therefore, it is only from the Holy Spirit that the spiritual people (humble, broken, and contrite, Psalm 51:17, Isaiah 57:15; 66:2) can receive and interpret spiritual truth (1 Corinthians 2:13). The natural, depraved person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they make no rational sense to them and are foolishness (folly). They are not able to understand because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). On the other hand, the spiritual people are able to understand and even judge (appraise, assess) all things without fear of being judged by anyone since they have the mind of Christ instructed by the Lord Himself (1 Corinthians 2:15-16). *Application* It should become apparent to us the freedom which is in Christ Jesus and His simple gospel. It opens up the mysteries of God through His Spirit being poured out upon us in fullness and grace. Dear Christian believer, stop trying to figure everything out and rest on the mighty power of God and His understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). We can actually have the mind of Christ. That thought should blow us away that His wisdom can dwell in us!

 

Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 2: 1-2, 16

Monday, January 7, 2013

1 Corinthians Bible Study Notes- Chapter 1


1 Corinthians 1

 

-Paul writes a response letter from Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8, 19) to some disturbing situations he was hearing about from Chloe’s people (1 Corinthians 1:11). The main problem was division in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10), which seems to be the predominant theme throughout the 16 chapters of this lengthy letter. Paul had to cover a myriad of issues that ranged from their allegiances, to their puffed up attitudes, to their sexuality immorality and misunderstanding, to their lack of understanding with regards to spiritual gifts, to their questions about their future resurrection in Christ. Paul sternly at times corrects and admonishes this wayward group of saints, sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:2) with all the power and authority the Spirit had given him in the Name and apostleship of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior. He begins his letter in typical Pauline fashion by a warm spiritual greeting that included praise to the Lord and greetings in grace and peace. He was thankful for these beloved believers in the Corinthian church who had been impacted by their pagan culture more than they knew. Paul, through spiritual insight, paints a beautiful picture of teaching and wisdom in the power of God alone. Thus ends this brief introduction to the book.

-After Paul addresses the presenting problem of division in the church through quarrels, disunity, and diverse opinions (1 Corinthians 1:10), he chastises them for following leaders from the apostles and banding together in cliques under their respective teachings. He sarcastically rebukes them for following men rather than the Christ. The Christ group he includes could be the arrogant, puffed-up believers that would later in the letter be disciplined for their superior attitudes and haughty spirit. Paul also reiterates his call to preach and downplays the role of man’s authority through the comments he makes on baptizing the saints. His focus is on getting them to realize that it is Christ who should be glorified and the unifying influence on the church. *Application* We are just as guilty in this present age of thinking that our own particular church is the greatest with its man of God at the helm. Any pastor worth his salt will be like Paul and denounce this type of thinking for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God. We should be unified and supportive of fellow believers of different churches and even denominations if they believe in the Word of God. Don’t be arrogant and conceited in your local body. Don’t form cliques in your church that ostracize and promote the spirit of rejection. This is the kind of stuff God detests.

-Verse 18 begins a section that runs through the end of chapter 4 focusing on the wisdom of God verses the foolishness of man. The power of God is a key theme here, which is demonstrated by the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is foolishness to Jews because they sought signs and the cross was a stumbling block since Jesus was not yet the exalted Messiah they had so hoped and longed for. They missed His sanctifying, righteous and redemptive work as a suffering Servant in His first incarnation (1 Corinthians 1:30, Isaiah 53). The cross is foolishness to the Greeks (Hellenists, Gentiles) because they sought wisdom. Jesus was portrayed to the world as a crucified criminal, which was not wisdom in the Greek mind. But, to the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ (who was crucified) became the power (sign implication) and wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). God’s foolishness is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25). Paul then asks his readers to remember where they came from, before they got arrogant in their prideful attitudes. God is a God who exalts humility and will shame the strong. He chooses the weak, the low, the despised in the world, even the things that are not (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). He does this so that no human being might boast in the presence of God as if they could accomplish anything on their own merit (1 Corinthians 1:29). If we are IN Christ, He has become our wisdom from God (1 Corinthians 1:30). “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31).” *Application* God’s folly is wiser than our smartest move. You can’t top His plan, so don’t even try. Submit to His way and be saved by His power and wisdom! It is the cross that saves!

 

Verse to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 1:10

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 16


Romans 16

 

-Paul, as is his relational custom, greets and commends many brothers and sisters in Christ with personal greetings at the end of this inspired letter to Rome. His love is manifest for the partnership in Kingdom work and the sacrifices they have all made together for the sake of Christ and each other. His plea is for unity and oneness in the body of Christ as they grow and develop in the LORD. *Application* We need to be like Paul in our relational thoughts, prayers, and words. He took the time to say what he felt, and so should we toward the people we love.

-He does give some final instruction to the church. As words of warning he appeals to them to watch out for those who cause divisions (a canonical theme that will be taken up in the next book of the Bible after this one, 1 Corinthians, notice how these books tie together in a supernatural tapestry of knowledge and wisdom), and create obstacles (stumbling blocks) contrary to the doctrine he has taught them (Romans 16:17). These dividers and false teachers do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ out of a pure heart, but out of their own appetites (Romans 16:18). “By smooth talk (the Kingdom is not about talking and persuasive words, but power in the Lord, 1 Corinthians 2:4) and flattery they deceive the hearts of the na├»ve (Romans 16:18).” Paul rejoices over the Romans obedience, which is known to all, and he implores them to stay steadfastly innocent as to what is evil and wise as to what is good (Romans 16:19). The God of peace is promised to crush satan under His feet soon. Until then, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is promised to be with the brethren (Romans 16:20). *Application* Don’t be deceived in this age of deception. We live in a time much like Paul’s where there are many out to take advantage of non-discerning, innocent people. Don’t follow false shepherds. Don’t be pulled in by their smooth speech and empty promises. If they are dividing the Lord’s church, this is a red flag. If they preach a false doctrine contrary to the Scriptures, flee as fast as you can. Be vigilant (on guard, alert, watchful) against what is evil and cling to the good. Support those you know are walking with the Lord. God will give us peace in the battle and crush the enemy in time (Romans 16:20). That is His promise.

-Greetings from the sending party and Tertius, who wrote the letter as a basically a secretary for Paul (which was and still is common with authors), are given to the church with warmth.

-Finally the book ends with a precious doxology (a praise to God to give Him glory). He is able to strengthen according to the truth of His gospel, which Paul proclaimed (Romans 16:25). This gospel, which was in the past mysterious, has now been revealed in fullness and simplicity to all the nations by way of Christ’s work and the prophetic testimony (Old Covenant writings, i.e. the Old Testament) by the command of the eternal God to bring about the obedience of (by) faith (Romans 16:26).

 

Verse to Memorize- Romans 16:17

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Romans Bible Study Notes- Chapter 15


Romans 15

 

-Paul now finishes up his theological imploring to the saints in Rome by letting them know they have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak if they themselves are strong (Romans 15:1). Building up others is again the exhortation rather than pleasing one’s own self (Romans 15:1-2). This was the example of Christ in His incarnation and should be indicative of the believer’s walk as well. Christ even bore our reproach (reviling, insults heaped upon, Psalm 69:9, Romans 15:3). These are prophetic words from David written for our instruction, endurance, encouragement, and hope (Romans 15:4). The result is complete harmony in the unity with believing brothers and sisters in Christ. There is to be a welcoming Spirit in the church of the Living God for His glory (Romans 15:7). *Application* Community is a key ingredient in the Spirit-filled life as Paul points out here. To live side by side with each and bear their faults and shortcomings can be cumbersome and difficult, but oh so rewarding as we grow up together as one into maturity in Christ Jesus. Remember His example as the just suffered for the unjust and brought us sinners to a higher level of acceptance in the eyes of God (1 Peter 3:18). Fulfill the law of love by forbearing with one another.

-Paul uses Old Testament citations to explain the point of how Christ became a Servant to the circumcised (the Jewish people) to demonstrate God’s truthfulness in a confirmation of the promises given to the patriarchs (the Old Testament fathers of the faith who were given the oracles of God) (Romans 15:8). This has all been done so that his ministry to the Gentiles might be given and fulfilled as the Lord has called and commanded of the Apostle Paul and others. God wants to be glorified in the nations as they receive Him as Lord and Savior, which has been His plan all along as we can see from these diverse Old Testament passages (2 Samuel 22:50, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, Isaiah 11:10). Paul’s prayer at the end of his theological teaching in this letter is for them, the Gentiles of Rome, to be filled by the God of hope with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit they may abound (have left overs, be extremely rich) in hope (Romans 15:13). *Application* God is so good to open up His message of hope, joy, peace, and righteousness to us. Extend His Kingdom of love everywhere you go as you are called by His grace and mercies. He was a Servant for us; let us be His willing vessels in return out of a heart of complete devotion and sanctification (set apart and growing).

-Paul now begins to tie up his letter with some final exhortation and instruction by way of reminder (Romans 15:15). He wants these believers to be full of goodness, knowledge, and able to pass these truths on to others (Romans 15:14). He defends his call and ministry in the power of God alone and shares his future wishes to come to them finally on his way to bring the gospel to Spain (Romans 14:16-24). Therefore, the writer moves into his travel plans in the letter. He was currently on his way to Jerusalem to deliver the contribution of the saints from Achaia and Macedonia for the poor in the Holy City (1 Corinthians 16:14, 2 Corinthians 8-9). The material blessings are an apropos return by the Gentiles for the spiritual blessing the nation of Israel had been to them (Romans 15:27). Paul longs to come to these saints in Rome one day and asked for intercession in the Spirit as he goes on his way to Jerusalem. Paul would eventually get to Rome, but not in the manner he expected. He would be incarcerated in Jerusalem unjustly, have to wait for a period of two years in Caesarea Maritima under arrest, and then be brought to Rome in an appeal to Caesar on a very adventurous journey by sea (Acts 21-28). We don’t know Scripturally if he ever made it to Spain. *Application* God directs our paths. We can make our plans, but it is God who guides and leads His chosen into the right spots and purposes for His mission. Be obedient in your spiritual journey. The Lord eventually rewards the faithful.

 

Verse to Memorize- Romans 15:13